VIVIAN MAIER, A baby-sitter storyteller of America ‘900

Wednesday, 31 July 2013
Self-portrait, Feb 1955 ( between oblivion and fame there is just an ordinary event. It was the year 2007, and during an auction, for a few hundred dollars, Mr. John Maloof, bought something like 40,000 negatives of unpublished images. Shots made by a nanny between the '50s and '80s, that narrate life of people living in the largest American cities streets.

The name of the nanny-photographer was Vivian Maier. She was born in New York in 1926, lived in France until the age of 25; after moving to the States in 1956, worked as baby-sitter in Chicago with a passion for photography that went beyond the dedication. After taking care of children for 40 years, almost all children of middle-class families in Chicago, last years of Vivian life were spent in poor condition. She died in disgrace in 2009. It is thought that Vivian Maier, during his walks among the people, has made more than 100 thousand shots. Shots that have lied in the darkness of anonymity for many years, some unknown even to the author. In fact, in a certain period of life, Vivian Maier, due to the poor economic conditions, has not been able to develop the films.
Most of Vivian Maier as a person is unknown, for the most she is described as a quiet woman, mysterious, socialist, feminist and anti-Catholic taking photographs all the time with his Rolleiflex 6x6, but only to give vent to her secret passion. In fact, there are very few prints found in the archives of Vivian, as if to emphasize the author's intention not to share the work; keeping them jealously for herself, feeling as well fulfilled. And in fact, watching Vivian's shots, a feeling of inner solitude reveals; a state which enables the author to isolate and better play the role of narrator.
Narrator of moods of Americans walking down the roads in the middle of the 20th century. Today, looking at Vivian Maier shots, coming back in the light thanks to the enormous work of Maloof, you can see that Vivian Maier quality might be put at the same level of other much more famous photographers. Someone says that Vivian has experienced, and in some ways anticipated, almost all the trends of American photography of the 900. That's exactly ordinary event but then miraculous, an American boy, estate agent, thanks to his interest for the history of his city, he discovered a fabulous treasure, the work of a baby-sitter put in place between 1952 and 1980, which contains all that the greatest photographers would have expressed in the years to come. I wonder what Vivian thinks of this celebration.
To know more:
The film "Finding Vivian Maier" will be ready later this year.
©2013 Silvio Zappi

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